The secret to excellent bread
Right now gluten is seen as some sort of a nutritional villain. I do have some friends who have Celiac disease. One of my high school friends was hospitalized for most of junior year because she had undiagnosed Celiac disease. So I get that some people ought not to eat gluten.
But for most of the rest of us, gluten is what makes the difference between a saggy loaf of bread and one that is muscular. In short, gluten makes bread a pleasure to chew. If I can find it in my local markets, I use King Arthur bread flour. It’s a really high gluten flour. If I use a regular flour, I add some gluten to the dough. I can’t tell you exactly how much I add, it’s usually something less than a cup to a load of bread dough.
As gluten has become more and more demonized, it has become more difficult to find it. I was happy to see this bag in the Kosher department of my local Associated Supermarket. You can sometimes find gluten at Fairway or in health food stores. I keep my bag in the freezer.
Yes, this was a challa baking week. It’s hot and muggy, but I love my family. I ended up putting the formed loaves in the fridge to rise so they wouldn’t over-rise. The baking books call this retarding the dough. I know, playground humor humor will force itself to emerge when you hear the term. But retarded dough is way better than the regular kind. You get more flavor and a much better texture. I think that a slow rise is just better than a fast one.